When it comes to hiking, East Tennesseans are spoiled. With the Smoky Mountains, rolling hills and miles of waterfront trails, our area of the country is home to some of the best places to exercise, wander and explore. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a newbie looking to get started, there’s no time of year more beautiful to try a hike than in the fall. Take your time, roam the paths and soak in the colorful falling leaves and crisp autumn air – you won’t regret it!
For our fall hiking advice we’ve turned to avid hiker and Tellico Village resident Gail Eades. In 2005, Eades moved to Tellico Village and quickly developed a passion for her new hobby: Hiking. What she liked most? It allows her to do two of her favorite things at once as she combines hiking with photography.
“I like to see the wonder of nature,” Eades said.
As her interest in hiking picked up, Eades found a way to add her newfound hobby to her social calendar. Three years after relocating to Tellico Village she and a friend started Ladies Who Hike, a club for women interested in hitting the trails with a group of gals.
“We started with 16 people,” said Eades. “Word-of-mouth got around and people started adding to the list and now I have almost 200 ladies.”
The Ladies Who Hike often do five to seven mile hikes 10 times each year. Eades gets out as much as weather and her schedule will allow. Averaging two or three hikes a month – she has countless hours of trail time under her belt and has graciously shared some of her fall favorites with us.
East Lakeshore Trail
Conveniently located just across the river from Tellico Village, East Lakeshore Trail is home to seven different trails with one more under construction. Each trail is unique and the seven trails combined provide almost 26 miles worth exploring.
“A few years ago every Saturday during the month of November, I took the ladies over to East Lakeshore and we did a different piece of the trail,” said Eades. “By the end of the month we had completed all of the trails and the fall pictures are absolutely glorious – I recommend anyone doing those trails.”
For more information on the trails visit the Watershed Association of the Tellico Reservoir (WATeR) website and for directions to the trails visit Outdoor Knoxville’s website.
Turtletown Falls Trail
This hike is a three-mile loop in the Cherokee National Forest just south of Tellico Plains. It is a gorgeous hike leading you by stunning twin waterfalls. You will see a total of three waterfalls on this loop.
“It’s my favorite hike in this entire area, I did it six times in one year I like it that much,” said Eades. “It is a beautiful hike and great for the fall.”
For more information, visit the East Tennessee River Valley Geotourism site.
Middle Prong Trail
Located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in the Tremont area, Middle Prong Trail is a picturesque fall hike. It runs along the Little River and is a fantastic spot to walk and enjoy the fall foliage.
“Our club hiked Middle Prong Trail on a Friday and I went back two days later to hike it again,” said Eades.
More information on hiking the Great Smoky Mountains is available on the National Park Service website.
Ladies Who Hike is not the only hiking club available at Tellico Village. If you’re interested in hiking with a group, there are two other clubs available: Muddy Boots and Tellico Village Hikers. It’s up to you which club you choose – at Tellico Village, there’s something for all skill levels and interests.